Sunday, March 30, 2008

Suprise Find at Reclaimed Land

I was at Melaka over the week end and stayed at Holiday Inn, opened just last quarter of 2007. Not the new facilities that I wanted to talk about but the surprises that I discovered while on my morning walk along the shore just few minutes from the hotel lobby.
I was attracted by this sign from far - is a Caution/Warning sign on crocodile.
I thought I was so lucky to see one.... no, is not crocodile but monitor lizard.
Looks like a Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) looking for food.
A little heron too...There are lots of giant mud skipperBut, just how big is these mud skippers?Just compare it with this Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), is about the same size with the bird!There are also lots of fiddler crabs waving their enlarged pincer.Looks like nature has started to reclaim what is lost to urbanisation about two decades ago. This whole area include where the hotel is are reclaimed during the 80's.
Now I know I have extra itinerary the next time I visit this area again!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Opportunistic bird - House Crow

Saw this house crow at the Marina South Car Park last week. It is omnivorous and highly opportunistic bird, it can survive on anything that is edible.

This road killed rat is a meal that not to be missed by the crows. They are also know to harass other birds include birds that are bigger than them such as White-bellied sea eagle.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Belinjo of Singapore

Gnetum gnemon, a nonflowering seed plant and member of the Gnetales. There is only single genus in Gnetales - Gnetum, which are mostly woody climbers in tropical forests. However, the most well-known member of this group, Gnetum gnemon is a tree. Its seeds are used to produce a crispy snack known as emping or keropok belinjo.
This tree is full of staminate inflorescence

The fruits turn red when ripe.

 A bundle of fruits

Common names include, Meninjau (Malay) and Melinjo or Belinjo (Indonesia). These tree can be found planted along Lorong Halus by AVA as shown in photos. Is the fruiting season now, you should be able to find it when you are at Lorong Halus.
There's few ways of preparing the belinjo nuts (or seed):
  1. ground into flour and deepfried as cracker
  2. whole fruit is boiled, dried and then flattened
  3. simply remove the thin skin, flattened it and deep-fried
I guess this explain why some cracker taste bitter perhaps is prepared using method 3??

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mini Shell at Semakau

I didn't expect the tide to be so low today. According to NEA tide table it should be 0.5m, however it is much lower. We saw a lot of interesting animals today at Semakau inter-tidal area. I'll just pick some photos to show here. I'm sure the other guides will put up more of the beautiful photos including Tigertail Seahorse!!.This snail has a very striking pinkish red colour. But I really don't know the id.It looks big on the photo above but once compare with a 10 cents coin, is even smaller than the zero on the coin. Anyne know the id?Saw another pinkish red animal, but this is a sea cucumber. I'm not sure of the id too.The five calcareous anal teeth suggest that this is a stonefish (Actinopyga lecanora) sea cucumber. However, it don't have the grey or white zone surround the anal teeth that found on stonefish sea cucumber.This polka dot (Jorunna funebris) was having fun and pose for me for the shot.
Isn't this Glossodoris atromarginata nudibranch beautiful?Another beautiful nudibranch - Chromodoris lineolata
We end the walk about 7.30pm. Well, Semakau is one of the area that you are able to see animals that usually only possible when you go diving.
More interesting creatures found on today's trip at:

White-bellied Eagle at Marina Bay

I was at Marina Bay area last week end and happens to see the white-bellied sea eagle flying with fish firmly gripped in its talons. The eagle circle on top of the Marina Bay area while I was walking towards the Merlion Park from the Esplanade.
Looks like a tilapia fish
The fish is still alive and see the mouth movement (open and close), however I'm not sure if it catches the fish from the river or the pond nearby.
The eagle continues to fly in circle at the Marina Bay area for about 4 times before it disappear from my sight.
The next time when you are at Marina Bay area, don't forget to look out for this sea eagle in actions.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

麻雀虽小,五脏俱全 Tree Sparrow

麻雀 (Passer montanus) 是与人类伴生的鸟类,栖息于居民点和田野附近。白天四出觅食。翅短圆,不耐远飞。
鸣声聒噪,麻雀为杂食性鸟类并以杂草种子和野生禾本科植物的种子为食,也吃人类扔弃的各种食物。 繁殖期食部分昆虫,并以昆虫育雏。繁殖力强。麻雀形不惊人、声不迷人,加上和我们太熟悉了,反而使我们对它们了解得并不多.如果你愿意对它进行连续观测,你会发现它们是非常可爱的小生命!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mobbing of White Bellied Sea Eagle - 乌合之众??

This is continuation of my earlier posting on the white bellied sea eagle.
The minutes after the male eagle flew off to hunt for food, the unwanted visitors pay the mama eagle a visit. For the safety of the chicks, the mama eagle tries to shoo them away. As the visitors getting more aggressive, the mama eagle response accordingly and started the high altitude chase.

The mama eagle notice something fishy, suspected that she might be tricked or fooled. She immediately returns to the nest and true enough there is another crow about to attack her chicks. This has been going on and on for about 30 minutes and the crows finally go away.I’m sure this is not the first time that the sea eagle faces these challenge on bringing up their next generations. This won’t be the last either. Hopefully the chick can grow up safely despite the threats from the crows.

Did the crows really coordinate their attacks? Will the sea eagle able to defend the attacks from the crow? Looks like the Chinese phrase of 乌合之众 (groups of crows - referring to organization, groups that without proper planning, coordination, etc) got to re-written?
Read more about this strange behavior of birds mobbing at Bird Ecology Study Group.

This is the culprit that started the whole mobbing. Is really a big bird!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Story of The White Bellied Sea Eagle

It was a bright sunny day on last Friday, I decided to find out if the resident white belly sea eagle still staying at the communications tower. It has been many years since I first notice their presence around the area.
I’m so happy when I saw one eagle on the tower and I'm not sure if this is the same eagle that I saw many years ago. The eagle seems to be keep scanning the air space like an air traffic radar. I’m glad I brought with me my mid-range 600mm lens, good enough to take some photos from where I were, is about 2km away from the tower as the tower was in the middle of the restricted area. I can only observe from outside the station’s compound.

This eagle (I assumed a female mama eagle) was scanning north, south, eat, west, up & down from a horizontal beam not far from the nest.Look left, Look right,Look up and down...The mama eagle suddenly jumps down to the cat walk after about 30 minutes. While I'm still wondering what happen, I saw the papa eagle. The papa eagle flew through the fender very skillfully and landed on the catwalk.The papa eagle brought with him the breakfast for the family. Is a big rat for breakfast.Enjoying the big breakfast…After breakfast, the parents stay at the nest for few minutes and continue to keep on a look out for any danger. After few minutes, the parents fly circle the tower for one round and each landed strategically on two different area of the tower.
Papa eagle stay on top, Mama eagle stay slightly closer to the nest.The papa eagle continue to fly circle the tower for another 5 minutes before fly away to hunt for lunch…